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As far as I know, this is the first really serious melding or blending of the American death style with it's shadowed cousin, US black metal, and Kult ov Azazel, throughout this album's eleven (!) tracks, are setting down a blueprint for a new genre that I think a lot of USBM bands will be probably be following in the future. Taking some cues from the Swedish black scene, ala Dark Funeral and Marduk, the rhythmic intensity of death metal (the drummer that appears on this album, Gus Rios, must be a death metal convert - his double-bass work is just too precise to fit into the overtly simplistic machinations of most black metal skinsmen), and the amazingly, wearyingly, caustic vocal attack of earlier bands like Profanatica, Kult of Azazel, from the very beginning of the album, launch into an all-out assault on the senses from all possible angles and just never, ever let up. For the most part, this is one long blast beat all the way through... like an artillery barrage, a machine gun leveled at you and firing away until there's nothing left but pieces for the pathologist.
The drums, again, are what sets this apart from the other bands trying their hand at this kind of black metal... they remind me in a few ways of Krisiun's work in that department: blasting, little fills, a slower beat every now and then to work out the cymbals, constant double-bass, and then back to blasting... incredible.
Also, as I remarked earlier in my review of Kult ov Azazel's demo material, what really attracted me to their music was the vocal approach: the scarring, lacerating, oppressively angry outpouring of hatred... the intensity of which has only been increased on this release. Not content to just scream through the long lyrics, Xul here uses his powerful voice as another homicidal method of attacking your weak, spineless allegiance to Christ. An enormous amount of effort must have gone into the recording of the vocals on this album. Actually I think I can say with confidence that the most 'brutal' part of this recording are these groans, roars, and cries - they are just unrelenting in their monstrous, acidic savagery... after a while, a few songs, they put me into a death trance...
In terms of the guitar music, this descends, as I said above, in a fairly obvious fashion from the Swedish form of black metal, meaning: long, drawn-out, tremolo-picked melodies that cycle through a constant reiteration of theme and variation; small, shorter add-ins to these main melodies as asides, and a constant eye on providing a solid musical basis for the speed of the rhythm work. My favorite songs on this album would be where this technique is enhanced by extra harmonic back-ups, like in the third offering, 'Destruction to the Throne of God', where an extra guitar part comes in beneath the main tracks to add an extra touch of 'darkness', melodic weight, to the primary melodies of the song... also, in a track like 'Embrace the Burning' this band deviates somewhat from their musical convictions and strikes out into a few thrashing, atonal riffs, showing their death metal or grindcore influences. I would have liked to hear this band slow down every now and then and explore some of the darker textures in this material, but that's not really their area of expertise or their main stylistic approach: Kult of Azazel are sworn to battering violence, and they want to hammer you into submission.
A few words about the production on this album: if you buy this record thinking you're going to hear the necro atmosphere that most of the USBM scene swear a firm allegiance to, you'll be terribly disappointed. I was actually surprised by how clean, clear, and professional the production on 'Triumph of Fire' is... it's probably the 'best' sound a black metal band from this country has ever received - meaning that it's a death metal production job; all the instruments are loud, precise, and sparkling (the guitars are a little too clean for my taste), and the mix is excellent... listen to this on headphones and you'll be able to hear all the editing traces, the vocal panning and mixing, etc. and that will convince you of the skill of the producers/engineers on this effort. I am not bringing this up to point out something derogatory, I am just surprised that Kult of Azazel has stepped so suddenly into the limelight of 'professionalism'. Of course, because this is on a nationally-distributed label (Arctic is allied with Pavement) and shares ties to the death metal scene (it was produced by Malevolent Creation's Phil Fasciana), one would think that a little extra attention would be paid to the actual sound of this recording, and it looks like money has been thrown behind this band... interesting, isn't it? This is another reason to seek out this record: listen to what it sounds like when USBM is taken seriously, and people line up behind it.
In any case, 'Triumph of Fire' convinces on the merit of its sheer intensity alone, and the level of manic blasphemy swarming throughout these songs would be terrifying to anyone not aware of what is happening in the music scene in this country...for pure, Satanic fury and a vicious anti-christian level of barbaric violence, this album stands alone. If I were God, this would scare the hell out of me.
This is an almost quaint example of a USBM album from when the very idea of USBM was just starting to coalesce into an established idea. It's very silly for the most part- the 'Invaders'-style scale run riff on the opening track, the whispered "Burn the church" on the second- and not particularly nuanced in its delivery, but I'd say that 'Triumph Of Fire' has some historical importance to it. It's one of the earliest and most widely spread albums in the blasting norsecore style of USBM that was popular for the first half of the '00s. Of course it's not good! What, did you really think this would be different from every other album in this style?
I dig later Kult Ov Azazel when their melodic style became a bit more independent and a wider array of influences were incorporated into their sound, but this kind of sucks simply because it's so plain. 'Triumph Of Fire' is a remarkably undynamic album, basically just filled with blast beats, tremolo riffs, and... more blasts and tremolo. The delivery of this music, from the uniformly fast pace to the reliance on blasting, is clearly taken wholesale from the Swedish scene apart from the uniquely American style of ranting vocals and some of the more perplexing melodic decisions. When Kult Ov Azazel does choose to throw a wrench into their established songwriting mold, it's typically a terrible idea: this whole album is littered with nonsensical, atonal riffs only present to be different, not to carry the songs forward in any manner.
I understand the attempt here is to create a warlike, chaotic atmosphere with the constant switching between blast and thrash beats and the discordant riffing style, but what the band fails to realize on this album is that making music sound chaotic usually requires a pretty defined structure to pull off; just jamming shit together doesn't work. Kult Ov Azazel jams shit together: inappropriately linked riffs, boring drumming, and a particularly dumb vocal implementation all work in tandem to make an album that's very fast, very loud, and also very boring. Marduk worship is rarely a good thing and Kult Ov Azazel doesn't change this on 'Triumph Of Fire', which is more a reiteration of bland tropes rather than a complete musical piece. While I suppose this is one of the defining albums in this style of USBM, the band would get a hell of a lot better later on as well as the rest of the scene this helped create.
Frankly, though I like the later work of this band, you can absolutely pass on this album. It's just dumb and lacking in almost every regard- even the sort of muffled production becomes an irritation after a while. Excruciatingly long at 40 minutes with a single idea stretched throughout them.
If there’s such a thing as brutal black metal, this is it. It’s probably the production, but Triumph of Fire has a sound well rooted in metal whereas most black metal is typically more rooted in.. well, fuzz. You come to expect black metal to be a whole different species of music, but here’s some black metal that hasn’t lost touch with its distant cousin Metal “they just call me metal” McMetal. Aggression all the way, which is great.
And that’s pretty much the only great thing about Triumph of Fire. That and the occasional awesome riff. The majority of riffage is just your black metal standard, and the majority of songwriting is horribly mild and predictable. The songs are uniformly medium-length (2.5 – 4.5 minutes), but feel like they last for-fuckin-ever because nothing new ever happens. You can hardly tell when one song ends and the next begins because on top of nothing going on, each song has the same sort of nothing going on. Maybe Kult ov Azazel wrote a good song one time (though I doubt it), and thought the way to go about making more good music was to copy that song’s formula for every song following. They’ve got the aggressive, pounding metally goodness down, what they haven’t mastered is the concept of innovative ideas.. or ideas at all. The music drags on aimlessly, struggling to survive before drowning in its own stagnation, like an Arab in quicksand or some clever shit.
The brutality eminence is greatly due to the vicious drumming and venomous vocals, however both get stale real quick. It’s like two machine guns, one continually pounding out monotonous beats and one rigorously shooting a flood of unwaveringly primitive, plain ole hollering at you. The vocals aren’t your typical black metal. They’re more like hoarse shouting, actually that’s exactly what they are. Which is neither good nor bad hypothetically speaking, but shit gets old after about a minute of audibly hearing. Didn’t anyone ever tell Kult ov Azazel that variety is the spice of life and all that jazz? Apparently not.
“Aether Cries” and “Crown of Fire” are the standout tracks on Triumph of Fire, and not because they’re among the last few tracks (but the asshole in me would’ve liked that). These are the two most dynamic tracks with the most creative and intense riffs off the whole album; I wouldn’t mind an ep of these two songs. But the album as a whole? It’s too much, ironically because it’s not enough. Not enough substance spread over too long a duration. “In The Plagued Realm” also gets an honorary mention for a cool riff, despite a lot of filler. I commend Kult ov Azazel on the, er, metalness of their black metal, but, being a guidance counselor apparently, I advise them to add something new to the mix if they know what’s good for them. I WILL come down to Florida and chop down your palm trees. This is a flavor of the month album, not a keeper; good for a novelty listen or two but ultimately worthless.
Oh, and what’s up with all these US bands giving their songs French titles? Wouldn’t “The Black Mass” sound ten times more wicked than some pansyassed ”Le Messe Noir”? Whatever.
While KoA’s imagery and lyrical canvas seem to point towards a black metal direction, musically, however, this is pretty far removed from the black metal canon. Perhaps if your band hails from South Florida of all places, it is hard to avoid a strong death metal edge in your music, what with the production, courtesy of Malevolent Creation’s Phil Fasciana, being loud and almost clinically clear, and the session drummer probably having much more experience playing death than black metal.
Imagine ANGELCORPSE crossed with MARDUK and DARK FUNERAL, and you will have an idea of what KoA sound like. Unrelentingly fast and blasting, the music is dominated by flawless, yet monotonous drum work and overwhelming vocal delivery, which do not leave that much room for variety and atmosphere. Obviously, not everyone will like what goes on this disc. Nothing "nekro" to be found here, folks. But if albums like "Panzer Division Marduk" are your ultimate listening pleasure, then "Triumph of Fire" will be your huge cup of tea. Black metal for death metal fans.
Over the years black metal has not surprisingly..."changed". From its early beginnings where raw production with no synths or keyboards were the norm, to the now, where polished production and keyboards are the commonly accepted in black metal. Unfortunately, this came with a price. I think it’s a real shame that most black metal bands have added keyboards and synths and done away with raw production, favouring the crystal clear production. So what exactly has been lost? Well, to be frank I starting to wonder if there were any bands out there that had stayed true the origins of the genre, as most black metal bands nowadays either have clear production, added some sort of melodic touch to their sound, or both. Don't get me wrong, as alluded to in the previous section keyboards can give the music a very nice melodic sound but there are times when you just want, pure, raw in your face black metal.
And Kult ov Azazel perform just that! Triumph of Fire offers 11 tracks off aggressive, cold and hate filled black metal and because there are no synths at all to be found on here, it's a pleasant break from all the melodic black metal which is around today.
This album gets a lot of criticism for all the songs sounding all alike. Well, that just isn't true. There is a lot of variety in this album; there are separate riffs for every song. I can understand where they are coming from when people say "this is crap, all the songs sound the same" because you will need at least a few listens to fully appreciate all this album has to offer. It's so fast and aggressive that the first listen might just seem like a blur and if you dismiss it as just that, then it's your loss.
Another area where this band has coped criticism for is for, the lyrics. OK, I'll admit it, in some parts the lyrics are a little bit cheesy, but they are never lame with a capital l or anything. I mean, if you want lame lyrics just go read the lyrics to a Slipknot (AKA Slipshit) album. And hey, at least these guys are genuinely Satanic, unlike so many other BM bands out there now who just say they are in order to conform to the genre.
I thought I might as well dedicate a paragraph to the vocals because they are so damn good. The vocalist does a pretty good job, suiting the fast and insane pace of the music. Like the music, they are cold and hate filled. I think it's very important in the metal genre in general, to get a vocalist who suits the style of music you play; otherwise it can detract from the music itself.
So how come I'm only giving this album 80? Well, although this album is good there is nothing mind blowing on here. Sure, it's fast, heavy and aggressive but this album will never be considered a landmark black metal album. The reason being that this sort of album (albeit not as good, at least from my experience) was done by other black metal bands when the genre was in its infancy. However, I would recommend this album to any black metal fanatic, especially if you’re getting tired of all the melodic black metal around.
Highlights: The whole album, from start to finish this album was excellent
I can see where black metal purists would have a problem with this one; but if you strip away all the imagery that goes along with it, and don't even bother to LOOK at the lyric sheet, then what you are left with is just an enjoyably intense, white-hot assault from some genuine misanthropes doing what they do best....seething with oceanic hatred!!! This album features Audible Bass (a concept so novel in this genre that I'm going to go ahead and capitalize it), two vocalists raging and shrieking triumphantly against the common good, flawless drumming that can actually swing when it doesn't bludgeon and smash (see especially the first track "Le Messe Noir")....I mean, there really are WORSE ways to go about doing extreme music, no?
The 'black metal' deisgnation for Kult Ov Azazel, even though they themselves have no problem with it, seems to just be a result of their appearing in corpsepaint and bullet belts. Oh, and the desire to mock and defile the J-man fits in there, too, I believe. But I think K.O.A. would be served by a much broader classification; just plain old "extreme metal" or "ultraviolent music" would do the trick.The earlier comments about the band not having any new ideas may be valid, to a point, but refining or polishing an old idea can still be a nice alternative to completely breaking new ground. And just how many people manage to do THAT, anyway? Very, very few, especially in the realm of recorded music. I honestly get the feeling, from listening to 'Triumph of Fire,' that K.O.A. have faith in their convictions and a genuine enthusiasm for this blast-beat heavy sound....I really don't think they are doing this to get money, renown, 'chicks' or anything other than a bit of cathartic relief from a disappointing, ugly world. That's the crucial difference here between this record and the mallcore / metalcore mentioned in the other reviews. Then again, not even knowing what bands play such music ( and not wanting to know) maybe I am not your 'go-to-guy' to confirm or deny those comparisons.
I'm going to knock off a full 20 points from an otherwise perfect score because this album gets so exhausting after a while. If I was in a nasty mood, or listening to this for exercise / endurance training purposes, it would easily be in the 90-perfect range; since it fits those situations quite well. Having said that- the clean, 'small room' production (as compared to the reverb-drenched sound favored by so many BM-ers) and (again) the palpable determination of the players makes selected songs (go for "Le Messe Noir", "Crown of Fire" and "Aether Cries") perfect little fists in the face of everyday reality.
This is Chicken Soup for the Satanic Soul. Hail to fire.
45 for effort, but honestly, this CD is a disgrace.
This band is a disgrace.
I have no respect for USBM, especially if they make this sell-out, buttkissing mallgoth appeal cookie cutter satanist muzak.
I gave them a chance, I really did, but this is really laughable.
So let's dissect the poop:
"Lamb of Jesus
Your death I have seen
Goat of Satan
Your blood washed me clean"
Yeah, Kult ov Azazel, Dr. Seuss is fucking KVLT!!!
But attacking the lyrics is waaaay too easy, so let's get to the actual music itself.
First of all, a track by track synopsis is pointless, because EVERY SONG SOUNDS THE SAME.
These are the poorest excuses for BM vocals ever. There is no vocal range, just a grating, passionless drawling that goes on for about an hour.
The production sucks ass beyond shitty Darkthrone quality. No, this production was totally fucked up during the recording.
I put a few songs from this CD on a mix tape with some other BM bands, and compared to everyone else, it was as if someone was sitting on all the recording equipment; a really weird muffle to the whole CD.
The drumming is awful. It's so boring and samey, you wonder how this guy even got hired. They might as well have just put different guitar riffs over the same drum beats.
Speaking of which, the guitars are absolutely half-assed. Stupidest, lamest riffs ever, if you can even hear them behind the wall of screeching stoopid Nursery Rhyme Satanism.
Bass? What Bass?
If you think I'm being harsh, I'm not, it's really THAT BAD. If I were you, I'd save my money and get something that isn't a worthless piece of horseshit.
Ever since hearing Triumph of Fire in 2001, i new that this band was straying far from the black metal path, but yet it was regarded as such by a smaller group in the black metal underworld. I even tried telling this to someone on IRC, and she said that since the music is "black metal", it doesn't matter if every other aspect of it says that it isn't. Yes, this is fast and insane, but the cliche overdoing of Satanism tends to validate whatever contribution they have to music. As well, the vocals are relatively overdone too, and simply add to the melodic riffing and breakdowns, creating a decent METALCORE band. Think of The Black Dahlia Murder before they were popular, but with the melodic sections of Prayer for Cleansing. The comparison to Marduk is definitely relevant, and at times the bass reminds of Thornspawn, but less brutal and more pseudo-intense. Bands like these days are running out of ideas, but this still has some decent parts to it. The drummer is fast as hell, and not half-bad (almost sounding like a drum machine at times from the double bass - METALCORE), but needs to find other uses for his talents. The singer has potential when he changes from his usual pitch. Everything else is basically mediocre, and nothing too new. Download first. Or if you find it for cheap.
This is one original album we have here, especially for 2001, especially for black metal, and especially from America. This has to be one of the most INTENSE albums I've ever heard.
First off we'll start with Vetis, the drummer. What you have here is not black metal drumming. This is technical death metal drumming. Very unique patterns, tons of awesome blasts, even some thrashy double bass beats here. The drumming alone deserves a 100%
Now onto Xaphan on guitars. He does some really awesome riffs here. Totally old school riffs, but unlike bands like ildjarn or Havohej, he sounds like he actually knows how to play his instrument well.
Xul on bass/vocals. Let me make this clear...Xul is THE, I repeat, THE most intense, harsh, brutal, and demonic sounding vocalist in black metal that I have heard. This is not typical black metal growling. This is full on SCREAMING black metal. Xul does a good job impersonating the demonic cries in Hell. His bass work is extremely tight with Xaphan's riffs and fast as hell, he even does a bass solo.
How many black metal bands do you know that do bass solos, have a death metal drummer, original vocals and clean production? Believe me, this is TRUE black metal in a very brutal and Satanic form. The intro to the album is Anton LaVey's "Le Messe Noir" done over black metal music!
Death,black,thrash metal fans, looking for some NEW and ORIGINAL and still true BLACK FUCKING METAL? GET THIS ALBUM, NOW!!!!!!!!